Piney Gir @ Upstairs at the Relentless Garage, 26th August
Piney Gir's MySpace biography makes a claim that her debut album fits into the ill-defined "electronica" category but in recent years she has played up to her Kansas origins by favouring a more country-based style. I wouldn't claim to be the biggest fan of this kind of music but Gir is an artist who I've warmed to on the couple of occasions I've seen her because of the pure energy and pizazz of her shows. She has jettisoned her previous incarnation as The Piney Gir Country Roadshow and is now billed--deep breath--as Piney Gir and the Age of Reason with the Reasonettes. Judging by what we hear tonight though, this doesn't seem to signify a move into yet more radically different musical territory. The songs are good enough and it's a typically bubbly performance but we get a disappointingly short selection. Maybe at £6 a ticket it's a bit churlish to complain about this. What does spoil things though is the poor quality of the sound: it's barely possible to make out the lead vocals.
For better or worse, ukuleles are big at the moment. The Leisure Society (see below) incorporate them nicely into their easy pastoral sound, but there seem to be a number of bands--most notably I suppose the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain--who are building careers as cover artists, often exploiting the supposed comic potential of an instrument most readily associated with the 1940s flat-cap filmic japes of George Formby playing the songs of the more profane modern era, like those who have their origins in the electric guitar-based posturings of heavy rock. Sure enough, the hysterically-titled Uke Attack!! Uke Attack!!--for it is they, one of tonight's support acts--plough through Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law" and Led Zep's "Whole Lotta Love" and the joke starts wearing thin in no time at all. In fact it's their kazoo-tastic version of Gerry Rafferty's MOR classic "Baker Street" which brings a reluctant smile to my face.
The small upstairs room at the newly-reopened Upstairs Garage--now the "Relentless" Garage--is a real disappointment as a venue: utterly soul-less, garishly lit with red and blue strobes, and cynically furnished with a handy ATM machine lest you run out of funds to buy more over-priced lager. Won't be hurrying back...